A MAN who assaulted two children and stole their sweets in a ‘terrifying ordeal’ has narrowly avoided jail.
Paul Swallow, 25, of Overton Way, Wrexham, grabbed a 13-year-old boy by the neck, bending him backwards over a hedge, before stealing his bag of sweets.
He also pushed a 14-year-old girl to the floor during the attack.
Swallow was found guilty of the offences following a trial at Wrexham Magistrates Court in December.
Yesterday he was sentenced by district judge Andrew Shaw to a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, for one charge of theft and two charges of assault, at a hearing at Wrexham Magistrates Court.
Matthew Ellis, prosecuting, said the incident took place on the evening of July 27, 2013, when the two children had been at a party and decided to walk to a nearby convenience store to buy sweets for themselves and their friends, to the value of £15.
Their faces had ink on them after the children had been playing with felt tip pens earlier in the evening.
As the children were walking back to the party they were approached by Swallow on Chestnut Avenue, Acton, and another unknown man, who both began to shout abuse at the two children about the ink on their faces.
Swallow then pushed the girl to the floor before grabbing the boy by the neck, bent his back over a hedge, and snatched the bag of sweets.
The victims ran to a house where a relative of the girl lived and her mother arrived shortly afterwards.
She drove the children back along Chestnut Avenue and the girl identified the men who were stood at the side of the road. The mum proceeded to pull the car over and confronted Swallow.
Swallow walked back to his house with her and they were met by his older brother, who offered £10 compensation to her for the sweets, which she accepted, before later reporting the incident to the police.
Mr Ellis added that due to Swallow’s obvious height advantage over the two children, the incident must have been “very intimidating”.
The children sustained no visible injuries apart from minor reddening to the affected areas.
In a victim personal statement, the teenage girl admitted the incident had led to her self-harming on a “daily basis” in the three months after the assault and that she is now “too scared to walk to the shops”.
Ceri Evans, defending, confirmed the two children had not be known to Swallow before the incident and they were both “vulnerable” when the attack took place.
She said her client was fully aware of the seriousness of the incident but asked Mr Shaw if he would consider not sending him to prison as he is the sole carer for his terminally ill grandfather.
Sentencing Swallow, Mr Shaw said: “You are a 25-year-old convicted of assaulting two young children, terrifying them and taking their sweets.
“In addition, you pleaded not guilty meaning the nightmare for these two children has been continued and they have had to relive a terrifying ordeal.
“Only a sentence of imprisonment is applicable. However, I am inclined to spare you jail solely as an act of mercy on your grandfather who is terminally ill and is in a critical moment of his life.”
Swallow was also ordered to pay £500 court costs and an £80 victim surcharge.